Encouragement for Today - Feb. 12, 2007
Three Kinds of Christians
By Marybeth Whalen
I Peter 1:17, “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives here with reverent fear.” (NIV)
The other day I had a thought: how many people pray the prayer of salvation as “fire insurance,” as I have heard it called, and leave it at that? Sadly, they experience no discipleship, no spiritual growth, and no relationship with God. I would venture to guess that this is true of a lot of people. They simply “said the prayer so they wouldn’t go down there,” as my friend’s little girl says. The Christian life is merely another check mark on their to-do list. Taken care of eternity? Check. And yet, is that enough—or are we called to more?
We can probably all think of people who call themselves “Christians,” yet they exhibit no evidence of a walk with God in their lives. Yes, the thief on the cross was saved and taken to Heaven at the very end of his life. (Luke 23:43) Yes, we are not saved by works but by grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9) And yet, there is all that talk in Paul’s letters about striving for more and serving God. We have to make our peace with this truth as well.
I know that, while I have been a Christian all my life, I didn’t truly understand the scope of what that meant until recently. The more I learn about what it means to be pleasing in God’s sight, the more I find that God, who is merciful and compassionate and infinitely loving, is also the same God who is jealous (Exodus 20:5) and worthy of our fear (Proverbs 14:16). One thing I have learned is that there are three types of Christians who grieve the heart of God.
1.) The Fruitless Christian: John 15:1-2, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
2.) The Lukewarm Christian: Revelation , “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
3.) The Worldly Christian: I Corinthians 3:1-3a, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.”
The good news is that these types of Christians don’t have to stay in the place they are in. At times, I’ve been a worldly Christian—carrying on as the rest of the world did with no regard for the work God could be doing in my surrendered life. At other times, I have been a fruitless or lukewarm Christian. Yet God was patient with me and showed me the way to live much grander than I was living. He gave me the courage to put feet to my faith. I still have much to learn and much growing to do. I still have to ask for His forgiveness, and praise Him for new days. I still have to ask Him to silence Satan’s lies that I don’t matter and rest in the truth that I do matter—and that I can make a difference in God’s kingdom.
With Christ’s help we can all break free from passive, ineffective Christianity. We can stop looking like the world in a desperate attempt to fit in. We can make the most of the life we have been given and the unique opportunities we all have to bear fruit and live a passionate life for Christ.
Dear Lord, I want to be pleasing in your sight. Please show me how to be fruitful and to live with Heaven as my goal and not the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Living Life on Purpose by Lysa TerKeurst
Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge
Do you feel God speaking to you in one of these areas? How can you determine to bear fruit, be less worldly, or ignite a passion for God in your life? Is there someone in your life who needs your prayers for their walk with God?
Write down any verses you think of that apply to these areas—especially if it is an area you are particularly struggling with. Pray and ask God to help you as you strive to be the kind of Christian who looks different from the rest of the world.
I Peter 2:11, “Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in this world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”
Hebrews 11:13, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.”
Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
Proverbs 31 Ministries